The Fairfield County Magistrate Court strives to treat all persons having business in the court equally and fairly, regardless of race, creed, or stature. The court administers justice effectively, equally, and mercifully while following and upholding the laws of the United States of America, the State of South Carolina, and the ordinances of Fairfield County.
Office Locations and Hours
The Magistrate office is located at 115 B South Congress Street in Winnsboro, SC. Business hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The office is closed for lunch from 12:30 PM until 1:30 PM.
Bond Court hours are daily at 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM at the Magistrate Office.
Please be advised the magistrate cannot discuss specific details about your case or give you advice. The court staff will assist you in preparing your court forms.
Court located at 115 B South Congress Street, Winnsboro, SC 29180. Two things are usually accomplished in this proceeding. First, the defendant is advised of the nature of the charges and is also advised of the rights afforded to him by the law. Second, a bond is set by the magistrate. If a defendant is charged with a capital offense, or one which might be punishable by life imprisonment, the magistrate, by law, cannot set the bond. It must be set by a Circuit Court Judge. Also, the magistrate may deny bond in certain cases involving violent crimes. Defendants are not required to enter a plea at the bond proceeding. Bond proceedings are governed by a number of statutes and an order from the Chief Justice, with which every magistrate must comply. Any person charged with a noncapital offense is entitled to be released on a personal recognizance bond, without surety, unless the court determines in its discretion that such a release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required or unreasonable danger to the community will result. Victims are entitled to attend bond hearings and/or advise the magistrate of problems they anticipate encountering if a defendant is released on bond.
- New Year’s Day, January 1st
- Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, 3rd Monday in January
- Good Friday, Friday before Easter
- Memorial Day, Last Monday in May
- Juneteenth, June 19th
- Independence Day, July 4th
- Labor Day, 1st Monday in September
- Veteran's Day, November 11th
- Thanksgiving, 4th Thursday and Friday in November
- Christmas, December 24th, 25th, and 26th
Holidays occurring on Saturday are observed on the preceding Friday, and holidays occurring on Sunday are observed on the following Monday. When Christmas day falls on Friday or Saturday, the three-day holiday period shall be observed on Thursday, Friday, and the following Monday. When Christmas day falls on a Sunday or Monday, the preceding Friday, Monday and Tuesday shall be observed as holidays.
Criminal & Traffic Court
Magistrates mainly handle criminal and traffic offenses with a maximum fine of $500.00 or 30 days in jail. (State assessments will be added to the fine imposed). You must appear in court at the specified date and time on your ticket or bond paper. All times are in military time. If you decide to mail in your bond rather than appearing in court, mail a money order, cashier’s check, or bank-certified check payable to Fairfield County Traffic Court to 115 B South Congress Street, Winnsboro, SC 29180. Do not mail cash or personal check. Be sure to enclose a copy of the summons or the summons number on the money order. The payment must be received in court on or before the scheduled court time. The posting of bond does not affect your right to appear in court and receive a fair trial before the judge or to request a jury trial, provided the jury trial request is made in writing to the court before your court appearance date. If you fail to post bond or personally appear in court on the assigned court date, your home state motor vehicle division will be notified and your driver’s license may be subject to suspension until the matter is cleared with the trial court. Failure to appear in court or post bond in criminal cases may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.
Civil Court (Small Claims)
Magistrate’s civil jurisdiction is limited to amounts of $7,500.00 or less and may include such matters as, disputes over money owed, defaulted credit payments, breach of contracts, abandoned property sales, and landlord-tenant matters. Civil complaints are filed in the county where the defendant (person being sued) lives or the company does business or has an office. The complaint must explain in detail the reason(s) for the action being filed. A filing fee is required. When the complaint is filed, a summons is issued for the defendant to answer the complaint within thirty (30) days. If the complaint is not answered within the 30 days, the plaintiff will be awarded a judgment by default. The defendant may answer the complaint and request a trial by the judge or a jury trial. Each party will be summoned to court to present its position. (If witnesses are needed please notify the court to subpoena). If neither party appears the case is dismissed.
Summons and Complaint
You may file a civil lawsuit in magistrates' court if you believe that you or your property have been injured or damaged and the amount of that injury is $7,500 or less. The filing fee is $80.00 for filing and service of process. You must provide the court with a clear and accurate legal name and street address for the defendant. Route and box numbers are not acceptable. If filing against a business, determine whether or not the business is incorporated or privately owned. If privately owned, list owners full legal name. If incorporated, provide the name and address of the registered agent. The Secretary of State may be contacted to obtain the agent’s name. If filing to collect on an account or note, include duplicate copies of the statement of account, invoices, or note to verify the amount due and have your signature notarized.
The court will issue a summons when the complaint is filed and the summons requires the defendant to answer the complaint within thirty (30) days after the date of service. The defendant must answer in writing. If the defendant has a claim against the plaintiff arising from the same facts the defendant may file a counterclaim in writing with the court at the same time the answer is filed. If the defendant does not answer within thirty (30) days after service of the summons and complaint, a judgment by default may be entered against the defendant. The Court will schedule a bench trial if the defendant files an answer. The parties must appear with any witnesses and evidence that are necessary to prove their cases. You must notify the court if you need a subpoena for a witness. The case will be dismissed if neither party appears.
Either party has the right to request a jury trial and it must be submitted in writing at least five (5) working days prior to the date of the hearing. A transcript of judgment will be issued with specific instructions about the enforcement of the judgment. It may be recorded immediately at the Clerk of Courts Office. When the judgment is satisfied the plaintiff must notify the Clerk of Courts Office so that the judgment may be removed.
A motion for a new trial must be received by this court in writing within five (5) days after notice of the judgment. An appeal must be filed in writing within thirty (30) days from the notice of judgment. There is a filing fee and it must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas. The notice of appeal must be personal.
The relationship of landlord and tenant is based upon a contract, whether oral or written, which determines the rights and responsibilities each party has and owes to the other. Usually, the agreement between the parties takes the form of a lease. Tenancies may be for a specific period, month to month, or may be at will. If the tenant fails to pay the rent, the landlord can terminate the lease, force the tenant to vacate the premises, and recover any rent due. A landlord may bring an action of ejectment against a tenant in these situations: (1) when the tenant fails or refuses to pay the rent when due, (2) when the term of tenancy or occupancy ends, or (3) when the terms or conditions of the lease are violated. Even after service of process, rent continues to accrue so long as the tenant remains in possession, and the tenant is liable for the continually accruing rent.
You must file your ejectment action in the Magistrates’ Court that has jurisdiction over the property you are evicting the tenant from. You must submit an affidavit and pay a filing fee of $40.00 when you file the action. The Court will issue an Order to Show Cause which will be attached to your affidavit and served upon the tenant requiring him to either vacate the premises or show cause by requesting a hearing date. If a hearing is held and the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the landlord may immediately or within five (5) working days after the hearing date request a writ of ejectment. This will cost an additional $10.00. Law Enforcement Deputies can be present only to assure a peaceful set-out.
Claim and Delivery
A claim and delivery is a legal action to recover personal property which is in the possession of another party. The party who begins the action is the plaintiff. The party who has possession of the property claimed is the defendant. The claim and delivery must be filed with the court that has jurisdiction over where the property is located. You must pay a filing fee of sixty-five dollars ($65.00) when you file the action. A valid address for the party who has possession of the property must be provided to the Court at the time of filing. The jurisdictional limit of Magistrates’ Court is $7,500. If the subject property is valued at more than $7500, you will need to file your claim and delivery action in the Court of Common Pleas. If the property includes a vehicle, you must provide the vehicle identification number. Once the affidavit is filed, the court will provide you with a court date. An officer will serve a copy of the affidavit along with a summons setting forth the court date on the defendant. At the hearing, the Court will determine if the Plaintiff is entitled to the items listed in the complaint. If needed, the Court can issue an Order to pick up the items. This will cost an additional twenty ($20.00) dollars which can be paid immediately following the hearing.
An owner of any storage place or repair shop who stores or repairs any property has a lien on that property in the amount of the bill for storage or repairs. Upon the completion of repairs or the expiration of the storage contract, if the owner of the property fails to claim the goods and satisfy his debt to the lienholder, the lienholder may have such property sold at public sale to the highest bidder. This can only be done after sending a thirty (30) day written notice of his claims, to the owner and/or any lienholders.
The Plaintiff must apply to the appropriate titling facility, including, but not limited to, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or the Department of Natural Resources for the name and address of any last known registered owner or lienholder.
The public sale must be filed with the court that has jurisdiction over where the property is located. The fee to file for public sale is thirty-five ($35.00) dollars. The Plaintiff must provide the Court a copy of the written notice that was sent certified mail to the last known registered owner and/or lienholders. The Magistrate will schedule a hearing to determine if the item can be auctioned at public sale. If the sale is granted then the Magistrate will advertise the property for fifteen days by posting the notice in three public locations. The property may then be sold by the Magistrate and the proceeds distributed accordingly.
RESTRAINING ORDERS -- HARASSMENT, STALKING, OR NON-FAMILIAL ABUSE
If you are not in immediate danger, but believe yourself to be in need of protection, you can apply for a restraining order. Restraining Orders may be obtained from the Magistrate Court. You should contact the Magistrate for the area in which the offender lives.
Magistrates deal with cases of harassment, stalking, or abuse by a person who is not a member of your family. However, if you are uncertain whether or not your situation is "domestic" (for instance, a boyfriend-girlfriend situation, or a situation involving persons who cohabitate or share community property) you should check with Family Court or Magistrates’ Courts for information on where you ought to file your case.
Cases for Restraining Orders must involve at least one incident of harassment, stalking, or other threatening situations. There is no filing fee. You will also be asked to fill out a complaint and motion. A hearing date will be set for 5 to 15 days from the date you file your paperwork in the Magistrate’s Court. This gives the court time to arrange for the papers to be served on the person named as the Defendant. Complaints will be served by a Sheriff's Deputy. The defendant must be served before the hearing can take place. A Magistrate’s Restraining Order is good for a period of one year from the date of the hearing. These restraining orders can be renewed after the six month period, but you will need to request another hearing from the court in order for this renewal to be granted. If an immediate emergency restraining order is required it can be issued and remain valid until the time of the "show cause" hearing.
A violation of either a restraining order or a temporary restraining order is a criminal offense, and if such an order is violated, you can contact the Magistrates' Court and request that the Magistrate issue an arrest warrant.
Magistrate Court jury trials are conducted at scheduled times. Jurors are selected randomly by computer from the voter registration list and the DMV licensed list of the county. All jurors are to report to the magistrate's office located at 115 B South Congress Street in Winnsboro, unless they have been excused by the presiding judge. If you think you may qualify for an exemption, please call the magistrate's office for further instructions, some valid exemptions/excuses are: age, child care, physical/mental conditions, recent jury duty, and some occupations may delay your service to another term. All jurors must complete the information form and return it to the magistrate's office. You will be paid $10.00 for each day you are required to appear. Dress appropriately for the courtroom. Inappropriate dress would include hats, tank tops, shorts, or Tee shirts. Do not bring telephones, pagers, or any noise-making devices or electronics into the courtroom. Absolutely no weapons are allowed in the building. You may be subject to search or electronic scanning devices.
Disobedience to Juror Summons
Section 22-2-130 permits the magistrate to punish any properly summoned prospective juror who fails to respond to the summons. If the disobedient juror fails to contact the magistrate and offer a sufficient reason for his delinquency within 48 hours, he shall pay a civil penalty not exceeding $100.00. Should that person fail or refuse to pay the civil penalty, the magistrate may find that person in contempt and punish him according to § 22-3-950. No person shall serve on a magistrate's court jury more than once every calendar year.
Magistrates issue arrest warrants for criminal offenses that occur in Fairfield County. If you are seeking an arrest warrant, the party seeking a warrant must go to The Sheriff’s Office and have them investigate the incident. The Sheriff’s Office will request a warrant to be issued by a magistrate after showing probable cause. The magistrates do not receive copies of incident reports from the investigating officers.
Magistrates conduct Preliminary Hearings in matters of the General Sessions Court jurisdiction. A Preliminary Hearing is a hearing to determine if the State can show there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime with which he is charged. A defendant will receive from the Bond Court Judge a form to request the hearing. The defendant or his attorney must return the form to the court listed on the form within ten (10) days to qualify for the hearing. The Preliminary Hearing is an administrative inquiry and not an adversary hearing.
Restraining Order (Harassment/Stalking)
Magistrates issue restraining orders in matters concerning harassment or stalking. Restraining Orders are civil in nature and require the filing of a complaint listing verified reasons a restraining order is needed. After the complaint is filed, the magistrate will issue a summons, requiring all parties and their witness to be present for a hearing to determine whether to issue the restraining order. There is no filing fee for a restraining order; however, the non-prevailing party must pay the court cost.
Magistrate Contact Information
Main Office Phone: 803-635-4525
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM
115-B South Congress Street
Winnsboro, South Carolina 29180